Confession: This wasn’t actually my first game, that was a local derby between Stalybridge Celtic and Mossley (I think, certainly one of the other Tameside clubs) but I count it as such and it does have, more historic and personal significance.
Being six-years-old at the time there’s not a great deal I can remember about it in all honesty. One of the things was standing (or being sat on a railing) on the Kippax, the huge Platt Lane stand to my left looked empty. It often did. 8,000 seats was quite a large number to designate away supports when the average crowd across the league that season was just below 20,000.
We won the game 3-1 after falling 1-0 behind but the significance was in City’s opponents. This was the first game Wimbledon played in the top flight in English football and amazingly they bounced back from the Maine Road defeat with a succession of wins that put them top of the table for a short spell a few weeks later while we ended up getting relegated.
What has happened to Wimbledon since has rightly been well-documented as it’s one of the most shameful episodes in the English games history. I’m quite a live and let live kind of feller and was pretty moderate in my views towards MK Dons compared to most. However, the prospect of a cup game between them and AFC Wimbledon, and reading the thoughts of some of AFC fans on it, some of whom may have been at my first game, really brought home the situation.
I’ve been to around 700 City games since and I’ve naturally built-up an encyclopedia of memories from them but whenever the ‘first game’ conversation comes up, it’s in the context of the opposition that I always end up talking about.